16 February 2023
Public Sector Unions affiliated with the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) have resolved to participate in the fresh round of wage negotiations in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) for the year 2023.
The decision to conclude the disputed 2022 negotiations on our end follows extensive discussions with union members and other structures of our organisations. Last year, we were part of a dispute with the employer that involved many trade unions in the council. Our members participated in workplace picketing and even amplified the industrial action through a one-day mass protest across the country.
While the demands that members tabled before the government have not been met, that with other outstanding matters including the reneged on last leg of the 2018 wage agreement, members of Fedusa public sector unions strongly feel that it is time to move on. Fedusa public sector unions have not abandoned our deadlock of 2022/23 but have rather placed our trust in the PSCBC process to address the employer’s intransigent behaviour over the last few years as opposed to further industrial actions. Unions do not want to prejudice our members any further for the 2023/24 round of negotiations.
However, it must be made clear that the decision to enter the new negotiations on a clean slate does not discount the amount of work the employer has to undertake to win back the workers’ trust. It is no secret that negotiations cannot succeed when there is no trust between parties, as we have witnessed in recent PSCBC engagements. We want the employer to make public assurances to workers in the public service about its willingness to repair the years of damage caused by the unilateral implementation of wage adjustments among other issues.
Fedusa public sector unions regard the upcoming budget speech by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana as the first test of the trust-building process between organised labour and the employer. At the public sector summit held last year, all parties acknowledged the need to correct the anomaly where the finance minister tables wage increase proposals to workers during the budget presentation, as opposed to the PSCBC where the matters should first arise.
We are confident that cognisant of the crippling cost of living crisis in the country, the employer will offer workers a reasonable increase in their cost-of-living adjustment. Fedusa public sector unions will table their consolidated demands in the council at the right time. We also remind members of the media that wage negotiations are sensitive and it is in good faith that we will refrain from publicly discussing the demands of workers at this stage of the process. Our members have mandated negotiators and other officials responsible for the process in the 2023 cycle to give the talks a chance, with the hope that at their conclusion their dire financial difficulties will improve.
For Media enquiries
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary